Metropolitan Community Church
Interview with Youth Minister Ronald W. Howell
Tell me about the history of Metropolitan Community Church in the Bronzeville community.
In October, we were blessed to celebrate 97 years of service to the Bronzeville community. Metropolitan was once known as the “people’s church” because it was a cornerstone of the community and a hub for civil rights meetings. Back then there were few places where blacks could go to interact and fellowship with one another. Metropolitan was a place that served as a real beacon for hope and change in the community.
How did Metropolitan first get involved with Community Renewal Society?
Judith Bell, the Ministry Leader of our Social Justice Ministry, held a meeting inviting a number of neighboring churches to Metropolitan. Representatives from Community Renewal Society came to talk about how they fight racism and poverty. We thought that it would be great if Metropolitan could be a part of the fight with Community Renewal Society. That was late in 2013. We joined in January of 2014.
Why is it important as people of faith to strive for racial and economic justice?
When it comes down to justice work, you can always think “That’s not my responsibility.” But as people of faith, it really is our responsibility. The Bible tells us in Proverbs 31:8 to ensure justice for those being crushed. So it's not just about going to church on Sundays. You also have to get involved in the work and give your time and talents to affecting change.
How has Community Renewal Society empowered Metropolitan to do justice work?
Our partnership with Community Renewal Society has given Metropolitan an avenue to pursue justice by providing the training and guidance we need to hold our elected officials accountable and actually change systems. At some point, the justice work hits home for our church members and they’re like, “I want to go to Springfield, too! I want to take action!”
What would you like to see in Bronzeville in the next few years? How can Community Renewal Society help Metropolitan achieve those goals?
I would like to see the renewal of Bronzeville with the church at the center of that renewal. We need Community Renewal Society to convene and train people of faith, so when we converge on the State Capitol or the Mayor’s Office, we’re all one Beloved Community versus a bunch of disparate churches with different agendas. When we work together for change—that’s how the church becomes the center for community revival.
What would you say to a church considering getting involved with Community Renewal Society?
If you really want to make a difference and you feel like your voice is not being heard, Community Renewal Society is the ultimate way to strengthen your position. When you’re with Community Renewal Society, you always feel like you have a vast community of folks with you who are all pulling in the same direction toward justice.